Saturday, December 6, 2008


Now that Ernest B. Schoedsack is back from India, Paramount is thinking about its production of “The Lives of a Bengal Lancer,” for which Mr. Schoedsack made the native outdoor scenes on his recent expedition. John Cromwell has been assigned to direct the film version of Francis Yeats-Brown’s adventure biography, in collaboration with Mr. Schoedsack. The script for the story, which will feature Clive Brook and Phillips Holmes, is being prepared at the moment, with Samuel Hoffenstein writing the dialogue.

Tala Birell, Universal’s new Viennese star, is to be featured in “Nana,” a production based on Emile Zola’s celebrated novel. It seems likely to begin work when Miss Birell completes here role in “Mountains in Flame,” which will be her first American film appearance. The plan to present Miss Birell in “Nana” is one way of taking time by the forelock, inasmuch as Pola Negri had an idea on her recent New York trip that she would like to play this role.

The death of Edgar Wallace will not delay production of three screen plays written for RKO Radio pictures during the few weeks the British author worked in Hollywood. Initial technical scenes were photographed last week for “The Beast” on a secluded set. It is the first of the Wallace shows scheduled to be made. Production will go ahead under supervision of Merian C. Cooper, who worked with the author in the technical writing of these special cinema stories. The other Wallace picture stories have been tentatively titled “the Soul Hunter,” and “The Man Without a Face.”

“State’s Attorney,” featuring John Barrymore, is in production at the RKO Radio studios with Irving Pichel directing. The opening scenes were filmed in a metropolitan political club setting with 150 players participating and a six-piece Hawaiian orchestra providing music. With the inauguration of production, numerous additions were made to the cast. Lee Phelps, Robert Wayne, Harry Stafford, R.H. Mitchell, Bernie Lamont and Nicholas Koblinsky were given parts. Leilani Sherwood, a native Hawaiian dancer from the island of Maui, was assigned to do a hula specialty. Featured support for Mr. Barrymore is provided by Helen Twelvetrees, Harry Bannister, Jill Esmond and Mary Duncan. The story is by Louis Stevens, and the screen play by Gene Fowler and Roland Brown.

The Spring production schedule at Paramount’s Hollywood studios swung into its full stride last week with cameras turning on seven features, almost maximum capacity for the plant. The films are:

This Is the Night,” with Lily Damita, Charles Ruggles and Roland Young; “The World and the Flesh,” with George Bancroft and Miriam Hopkins; “Sky Bride,” with Richard Arlen and Jack Oakie; “Sinners in the Sun,” with Chester Morris and Carole Lombard; “Thunder Below,” with Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Bickford and Paul Lukas; “Clara Deane,” with Wynne Gibson, Pat O’Brien and Frances Dee, and “The Broken Wing,” with Lupe Velez, Leo Carrillo and Melvyn Douglas.

Zasu Pitts has joined the rapidly shaping cast of “The Trial of Vivienne Ware,” now in production with Joan Bennett in the leading role at Fox Movietone City. Miss Pitts, believe it or not, will play the part of a tabloid sob sister.

Pat O’Brien will play the leading role opposite Wynne Gibson in “Clara Deane,” Paramount’s picture version of a play by Arthur M. Brilant. The role embraces three periods, ranging down the years from 1912 to the present.

Ever since Tom Mix agreed to come back to the screen, he has been a center of public interest. First came his winning of several law suits against him; next, his wife divorced him, then he was taken down with appendicitis, peritonitis set in, and for days his life was despaired of. His rapid recovery was an agreeable surprise to Hollywood, and the speed with which Ben Stoloff galloped him through his first picture, “Destry Rides Again,” was almost as unexpected as his sudden marriage to Mary Hubbell Ward, a trapeze performer who was in the Sells-Floto Circus, of which Tom Mix was the star.

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